How Much to Spend on a High School Graduation Gift

You are looking to give a high school graduation gift, but have no idea where to start.  You don’t even know how much to spend on a high school graduation gift.  Sure it’s the thought that counts when it comes to giving a gift, but you want to give something meaningful too.  As I wrote about in Not Again Part 1 and 2, you may want to go with some not-so-common gift ideas, but even so, how much do you spend?  I’ve broken it down by degree of relationship here.

  • Parent- Chances are you are helping pay for the college education post graduation, but you want to do something a little extra to celebrate the big day.  It is not uncommon to see parents give big-ticket items like laptops or tablets that cost hundreds of dollars, but remember parents, your child will be asking for a lot when they get to campus, so you may want to spread it out a bit.  Obviously, I am going to mention how it is a good idea to get your child something useful as a gift.  Why not buy him/her Making College Count?  If you give your grad a copy of Making College Count, that money will be working for both of you.  Your child will have the tips and tricks to achieve college success and get a job after graduation.  This is good for parents and students!
  • Sibling- Gifts worth $15-$30 is plenty.  This is the equivalent of taking your brother or sister out to dinner to celebrate or buy them an album or two for their trip to campus.
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.- Anywhere between $20 to $50 should be fine. Again I will say closer family members are great ones to give practical items like a copy of Making College Count. Buy the book here and it only costs $10, so you still have money left over to spend on something else, too.
  • More distant relation- Just like with siblings and closer family, anywhere from $15 to $50 is appropriate. You may want to vary the amount based on how well you know the grad.  And remember, if you give a gift as opposed to a check or gift card, the grad will never know exactly how much you spent.
  • Family friend- As with distant relations, the value of the gift you give may depend on how well you know the graduate or his or her family.  $15-$50 should be about right for all levels of relationships.
  • Friend- Friends are tricky because you are likely in school with the grad.  You may even be graduating too.  You can gauge how much to spend based on the gifts you receive from your friends and try to spend about the same.  If you have not gotten any or if you are all doing a gift exchange at the same time, somewhere in the $15-$30 range should be good.

I know it’s cliche, but the saying is true–when giving a gift, it is the thought that counts.  Why not give your high school graduate a gift that will make a difference in his or her college career?  Why not give Making College Count as a high school graduation gift?

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